Cancer ravages rural Punjab due to chemicals in pesticides; govt assistance fails to improve situation

Sangrur: It is difficult to imagine Jasmine Khan’s pain and agony at losing her 14-month-old son in 2016. Living in a two-room concrete house in a labyrinth of bylanes in Handiaya village of Barnala district in Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, she wells up every time Bilal intrudes on her thoughts, no matter that it has been two years since he succumbed to blood cancer. She often tries to hide her tears, but her trembling voice gives her away and makes it clear that the family is far from recovering from this loss.

“He used to cry and get fever quite often; so we took him to a local doctor who referred us to a local hospital. There, after some tests, we were told that Bilal has cancer; we then went to Kolkata for his treatment, but doctors there told us to admit him at PGIMER in Chandigarh,” recalls Jasmine. She says the family managed to admit him somehow, despite their limited financial resources, but he died within a month.